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Why Can’t I Find Special Needs Children’s Curriculum?

June 23, 2010

This blog is now 45 posts and 70 days old.  Two of the early posts on special needs curriculum have remained some of the most popular on the blog.  And because I repeatedly see the question, “Where can I find special needs tailored children’s curriculum?” on kidmin discussion boards, I have decided to address this topic again and in greater detail.

Curriculum designed for children with special needs is not easy to find.  Yes, there is a publisher here and there that offers such a resource.  But the prevailing thought in children’s ministry world is that curriculum tailored for children with special needs is largely unnecessary.  Here’s why:

1)      The range of ability in the special needs population is vast. Even among children with the same diagnosis, the capabilities can be dramatically different.  Because of the huge variance it is hard to develop a curriculum that can successfully encompass most special needs environments.  The “best” material is always going to match the abilities of participating students.  And because the general attributes and needs of students can differ considerably between the populations inside any two churches, the appropriate materials would therefore also differ.

2)      Curriculum is already available for varying cognitive levels. Many churches with self-contained special needs environments assess the general ability level of the participants inside their self contained special needs class.  They then select a typical children’s ministry curriculum appropriately matching the developmental level of their class participants.  For example, kindergarten targeted material may work in one church’s special needs environment whereas curriculum developed with a 3 year old in mind works best in another.  Again, the specific needs of the children in a particular church (or even class within a church) will drive the decision for what type and age level of curriculum works best.   Once curriculum has been selected, it may be helpful to invite a special education teacher or pediatric therapist to review the material and suggest adaptations that could work for the specific children participating in the class.

3)      The trend in the public school system and in churches is for greater typical classroom inclusion.  Many parents of children with special needs prefer their child to participate in the group Bible teaching and children’s worship along with children who do not have special needs. And often, this is perfectly appropriate because so many children with special needs have a high capacity to learn and/or can successfully engage in typical environments.  As a result, many participants in church special needs programs are receiving their Bible lesson through partial or full inclusion in the typical classrooms, using typical curriculum.  See the article Adapting Your Bible Lesson for Children with Special Needs for more on this subject.

Stay tuned for the next post, Curriculum Ideas and Other Resources for Special Needs, when I expand more on curriculum and offer suggestions of existing resources potentially helpful to special needs environments.

To see a list of toys for the special needs environment, see the post Products for the Special Needs Environment.

Like this post or any of its content?  See the blog entry Rules for Repost.

Amy Fenton Lee

4 Comments
  1. I suggest you check out this resource “Rhythms of Grace” a curriculum for churches to support children (and their families) who have special needs.
    http://www.churchpublishing.org/products/index.cfm?fuseaction=productDetail&productID=8451

    You can also view their ministry at http://www.rhythms-of-grace.org/.

  2. Sharon –

    Thank you SO much! This is exactly why we have this blog – so we can all network and share information like this. I just looked online and “Rhythms of Grace” looks great. I am so glad to see something developed with ASD’s in mind. Thanks so much for sharing this! We need to connect!

    Amy

  3. Stacy permalink

    We use Lifeway’s Access for our older group and Special Buddies for our younger kids. 🙂 Love them both!

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